Childhood cancer survivor. That's the good news. Bad news? Chemo and radiation zapped my eggs leaving me infertile. Egg donors were found, several attempts were made and finally we were blessed with beautiful twin girls - born too early (21 wks, 5 days on Dec. 5, 2008). Hang out with me while we savor life with Big Baby Boy, who arrived via gestational surrogate on March 25, 2013.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
A Bad Joke and a Dinner Plan
And maybe the question is just a silly question anyway.
Feeling good today. On a whim invited my brother, his lady and my cousin to dinner tonight. Nothing fancy. I just didn't feel like being by myself while M. is at work and I really didn't feel like leaving the house either. I always forget one can have people over for no other reason than you want them to come over. On New Year's Eve, my cousin had confessed that she had really hoped that the babies would bring us closer together. We had been incredibly close when she was a little girl but then I moved away, she grew into a teen. Things happen. She said when Iso.bel and Jo.vita died, she saw that opportunity, that chance for closeness fade as well.
But it doesn't have to be that way, does it?
So, I'm trying to take some time and reach back out to some folks who reached out to me and, if I think about it, have always been there for me. I am pretty sure I am guilty of not giving my family the time they deserve. I'm trying to get back some of that time tonight with some leek and potato soup and some homemade Irish bread.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
A Nice Note
Well there I was, mid-sucking as I opened the envelope. Not a bill, not an invoice, but a tests results memo. But instead of the check marks and OKs in the columns, it was simply stationary for a big note scribbled in (fairly legible) doctor scribble:
Results from bone density scan - normal
And then below it:
Wishing you a speedy recovery from the fracture. Ouch! - Dr. _______
Awww! The note struck me as so sweet, so nice, so, so caring. So strange that we live in a time where we rarely think of our PCP as well, caring, even though it really is part of their job description. His note took all of 10 seconds to write and mail but that's a second or 2 more than it would have been to just send the generic lab results or have one of his secretaries call.
This is a nice little shout out to all those docs that actually give a shit. Holla!
(and thank you)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I Don't *Think* She's Trying to Be Awful But...
Honestly, most days, I wish my boss wouldn't talk. At least not talk to me.
I need to back up for a sec. I have a kick ass job. And with very little (ok, one) exception, a stellar set of co-workers. The flexibility and freedom I have here I will not find anyplace else. So, whenever I mumble/grumble about being under appreciated, etc. etc, I just need to keep all of that in mind.
That being said, sometimes my boss says the worst things. Without even knowing it. This is not a function of "oh you're grieving and you're oversensitized" nor is it a new trend. It's not new; It is not specific to me. Survey any member of our office team and each of them could probably give you a good set of jaw-dropping, she-did-not-just-say-that anecdotes. Makes for great lunch conversation. Day to day mental health, not so much.
Yesterday we were reviewing some new employees and trying to figure out how best to use their skill sets in the upcoming year. When discussing a newbie who my boss had planned to place up front and center in some legislative things (my area), I balked and said that the support I needed was behind the scenes, you know, the hard, calling members, not fun stuff. Boss says, "Well, we are lucky to have you now that you aren't taking 4-5 months off, but this had been the plan...."
Lucky. She said lucky. And then intimated that me coming back to work (because I'd far rather be here than on maternity leave with healthy children, right?) somehow screwed up how she thought things were going to be this year.
Really sorry I fucked up your plans. Truly, I am.
Today, we were chatting in my office about future gubernatorial elections in our state, the need for transition docs, speculations on who might be the new members of the administration that we'd have to work with and she gives her guesses on who they might be. She intimates it would be far better if we had people in mind to recommend for leadership positions. Intimates that "if I weren't off trying to make babies" she could think of a real recommendation that she would make...
Yes, because I always planned to put my life/career on hold for several years as we struggled to build a family.
Once again, so sorry I fucked up your plans.
And here is where I must remind myself that I have never been someone to define myself with my job. My career and what I do during the day does not define who I am or add/detract to my self worth. These things that she is talking about - they DON'T MATTER.
But it still adds more sting to the "what am I doing with my life?" that accompanies the realization of the time spent trying to get to one, simple (for some) goal. Builds on the "can't have your cake and eat it too - well, you can, but it won't taste very good" understanding of trying to juggle a career and baby-making and hopefully baby-having.
At a Conference for Women a few years ago, the keynote speaker said something that struck me as so (sadly) true:
"The trouble is that your biological clock and your career clock are ticking together at the same pace."
As in, oh you're in your 30s and want to have a baby? Guess what? This is probably the one and only phase in your career where you have enough experience to move forward and enough youth and ambition to get it done. Which do you want? You want both? Oh, good luck...
Oh Wait, I Ordered Blue Eyes...
And this is what I think:
1.) Testing eggs or chromosomal abnormalities and viability seems to make a helluva a lot of sense to me. I mean, why wouldn't you?
2.) Anyone that takes the leap from there to "Both procedures would, in theory, allow embryos to be discarded or pregnancies to be terminated for a matter as trivial as height or eye color" Has never ever ever had a conversation with someone trying to conceive. Never even thought to speak with someone who needs ART to even contemplate being able to conceive.
I think I speak for everyone when I say we want one thing: a live baby that we can take home and love.
[and here's where I mumble, you dumb ass motherfu......]
Sunday, January 25, 2009
My New Ohm
- coupons for items we actually use in the Sunday paper + an amazing set of bogos (buy one, get one) offers at a local grocery store = "you saved $50 on this bill." I love it when an economic downturn works in my favor.
- I think I actually slept through the night last night. the whole night! I woke up in the position that I fell asleep in and I was shocked. Yes, of course, yesterday's purchases helped immensely.
- empty pool at the Y + cool new goggles + radio turned up loud enough to actually hear = one whole hour full of super strengthening and good for me laps. It's not running, but it's not painful either.
- empty sauna at the Y + me actually showering and stripping down before entering (I'm usually lazy and just crawl in chlorinated swimsuit and all) = far nicer sauna experience than usual. So nice, I came up with a new mantra for myself.
And I figured it out today. Don't laugh. You're going to think I'm corny and new agey. But honest, I'm not. (and I chuckle at this, because a pretty constant rule of thumb for me in life is, "if you gotta tell me, I don't believe you.") And here I sit, telling you what I am and am not. But seriously, here's my new mantra:
I am loving.
I am healing.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I dropped him off at work this afternoon and then found myself wandering the aisles of a local craft store with an arm full of knick knacks and yarn.
What the fuck am I doing here?
I couldn't think of anyplace else to be so I stayed. And, against my better judgment, bought everything in my arms, including a miniature sketch book and a tiny packet of oil pastels. Oil pastels??? Um, yeah, you're as surprised as I am. But for some reason I decided I neeeeeded both items.
Next stop, the wine store, and against my better judgment, I bought everything in my basket. Not that purchasing wine is against my better judgment, but I might have gone overboard. Maybe. But can you ever have too much wine in your home? My answer is emphatically not.
Now I am home, for a minute. I have a few more errands. And I have this nagging thought in my head that it would be very easy (and thoughtful) to stop at some relatives' houses and say hi. To pop in on some friends and do the same. But I don't want to. And I'm bothered at this social obligation that has come from nowhere other than my own head. No one is bugging me. No one has even intimated that I need to pop in on them. So why am I feeling guilty at practicing avoidance? I'm not avoiding anyone if no one is looking for me. Even my usual go-to's - facebook, myspace, twitter, email - all bugging the hell out of me today with their very existence.
I'm overcome with this need to scrub the apartment from top to bottom. Iron some clothes, finish the blanket I'm knitting, vacuum, water the plants. There's a spot on the grout of my bathroom tile that is making me crazy...there's clutter in the living room that seems to be growing...there's Xmas cards, sympathy cards, oh yes, and the live Xmas tree still in my living room. Somehow, I want to clean the whole place yet leave those large pieces still standing. But why? What am I holding on to? That fabulous holiday season? I don't know. I just can't bear to take it down yet.
So many plans for the day and yet I am sitting in the near dark (is the sun setting already?) typing away. Getting none of it done. I'm putting on my coat and leaving for the beer store (because, you see, you can't get beer at the wine store nor can you get wine at the beer store and none of those items are available at your friendly grocery store. Because that would be too easy).
And lordessa knows, nothing seems to be easy today, does it?
Friday, January 23, 2009
I have all kinds of things to share. It's been a week of superlatives. First venture out into workdom! Most inappropriate comments by a health care employee! Kindest doctor ever (EVER) encounter! Best book I have read in a long time! Most amazing insurance news ever! Ok, all of this went down. I have notes and scribbles all over my little journal/date book filled with things I need to tell you. Pieces of my life I have to share.
Thing is, I don't really feel like blogging right now. At least not about most of these topics. At least not with the seriousness that some of them deserve. Having just got back into this whole work thing, I'm kind of digging it, and I know if I veer out of Outlook and into Blogger, a good portion of my afternoon could very well be shot. I obviously haven't completely regained my focus and ability to multi-task.
And this is ridiculous but I am so distressed at the thought that folks just coming on to this blog for the first time (ICLW fellows, helloooo!) might get the impression that I am a perpetually "oh woe is me" kind of gal. Or that I wander around all day brooding. Or that I am bathing in my grief each morning and it only occasionally rubs off. And that's just not me. But reading this recent slew of posts, you could very well get that impression.
Once upon a time, I was actually kind of funny. At least, I cracked myself (and sometimes my husband) the hell up. And I have finally reached a point (I think. at least right now. Don't jinx it. Don't jinx it....) where I am feeling ok. Not fabulous. Not fulfilled. But not empty. Not hopeless. Not sad 24/7. I might just be in a good mood today. And I would like to savor those moments when they come.
I'm bored with being angry, so do I really need to spend a whole post on the doctor's office exchange that started with, "So, any chance of you being pregnant? Oh, of course not. You're 34...." (Oh hells yes, it got worse). No. Not right now. A few days out, it's kind of funny, but not funny enough to waste time recounting. Come buy me a beer. Maybe I'll tell you then.
But I do think some time needs spent on some of the other bits of news. So, I'll try to give them their due respect, perhaps later tonight once I'm off the clock. In the meantime, I invite you, take just a minute or two and click on an archived post. Might I recommend a pre-December 2008 vintage? (squeeze the cork, eye the bottle, swish the glass) I would love for you to get to know me. Not just the current state of me.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In the Light of the Projector
That was the caption on a cartoon on a PowerPoint that was presented at my Board of Directors' Strategic Planning meeting this week. A meeting that I would usually play an integral role in. A meeting that I wasn't really sure that I would even go to. And then I decided, oh what the hell. I had already excused myself from the agenda. I had no responsibilities for the meeting set up or execution. I would just be a participant. Worse case scenario: if I couldn't handle my first work outing outside of my warm, safe office and office mates I would just leave.
So, I got there after a morning marked by a crappy exchange with a crazy lab tech doing my bone density scan (ah, but this will be the topic of another post...) and was greeted with smiles and even a few hugs. I think my Board Chair attempted to hug me. (He's not very good with personal interactions). And a few tears eked out in conversations with some of my favorites but they dried relatively quickly. And there I was. And I didn't melt. And it didn't feel too awkward. So I stayed. For both days.
And here are the things I realized/remembered/am grateful for:
- I'm not stupid.
- I didn't completely forget what it was I did or what my job was about (don't laugh. this was a major fear of mine before I went back to work)
- Sometimes I do know what I'm talking about.
- I clean up real nice. (and while it was odd to be in my pre-pregnancy suits, it felt good to get dressed, do my hair, make an appearance)
- My grief can be recognized and I can be seen as not just my grief.
Lights that I was relieved to see.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I don't want you to get the wrong impression.
This is by far the earliest I have been awake and functional since Iso.bel and Jo.vita left us.
Since we've been here alone, the hardest thing, the absolute toughest thing for me to do is get out of bed and stay out of bed in the mornings. It is a daily struggle. First, there is a matter of routine. In the beginning, when I didn't have one, there was no reason or point to rise until I couldn't stand being stationary any longer. Then, when M returned to work, I would get up with him, sit with him for a bit and watch TV, maybe have some toast, and then crawl back in bed when he left. Fall back asleep, and before you know it, wham! 10 or 11 am was upon me.
Next is the fact that I am not sleeping through the night. I seem to catch my sleep in fits and starts, only really falling fully deeply asleep towards the morning. And I love to sleep. Love it. Unlike my husband who wouldn't sleep at all if he could help it, I would sleep 9-10 hours a day every day if I could. So I am so reluctant to give up the few hours I get once I finally reach a dreamy state.
No point in setting an alarm, because I shut it off, have a long debate with myself, yell at myself to get up, tell myself to fuck off, and then go back to sleep. Reset the alarm for a later time....lather, rinse, repeat....
Now that I am back at work (kind of) it is a little better, but not really. The alarm goes off, I hit it, set it for later, tell myself if I get up at that time, I could still roll out of bed, skip the shower, get dressed and make it to the office at a reasonable hour....15 minutes later...well, I could at least start work from home at a reasonable hour...15 minutes later...ok, now I am going to be late no matter how I cut it...15 minutes later...maybe I should just take a personal day...
Every day is a dice roll as to which scenario gets played out. Today was different because we somehow fell asleep before 10 pm last night. Actually, earlier. We got ourselves up off the couch and into bed by 10 pm. So by the time M's alarm was set to pop, we were both ready to be done sleeping.
Or maybe today's a new beginning? Maybe today is the day I decide that having more hours in the day to deal with is ok. We'll see. I'll take it slow.
If it doesn't hurt, I'll be ok...
Cracks in the Sad
I think I love the train. Yes. Even I don't know what to expect at the end of my journey. I really enjoy the journey. Always have. Back in the day it was my walkman; today its a (much smaller, much more reliable) mp3 player which unlike my old walkman has buttons that I don't have to hold down to get to play. In the wayback, it was text books, essays and a highlighter; nowadays its stacks of journals I never have time to read at the office, my laptop and this book. Which I may or may not crack open on the way home. We'll see. I think I will love this book. I just don't know if I am ready to read it today.
So here I am. On the train. En route to super smart MFMs. Listening to the band we went to see last week. The band that has been on constant rotation in the apartment for a few weeks now. They are really all I want to listen to right now. Their snarkiness soothes me. Their lyrics make me laugh. Out loud sometimes. And laughing feels good. Thank M for introducing them into my listening sphere. The first time I heard them, I somehow knew a ton of the words already just from M. singing out loud. I could type down some lyric snippets here, but they would be out of context and might not seem as clever/funny/ridiculous/great as I think they are. Or maybe you wouldn't find them funny at all. That would be a bummer. What did Dani819 call it? Gallows humor. Yes, there's definitely some of that. But who can resist when it's got a great beat and you can dance to it? Even on one leg.
Oh shit, I can't help it. Here are some of the lyric that M and I have been singing to each other all week:
And we exhale. And we roll our eyes. And we do these things - in unison.
And woe is me....and woe is you....and woe is us...together.
And WOOOOOE is me...and WOOOOE is you...and WOOOOE is us.
It's funny. It is. I promise.
"If It Hurts, Don't Do It"
If it doesn't hurt, you're ok.
That was the orthopedic advice I received when I asked what, if any, activities I should do/not do while waiting for my leg to heal. No brace, no cast, no supercharged pain meds (damn!). Crutches were offered, but c'mon, you know and I know that I probably wouldn't use them. Besides I have this pimped out walking stick I borrowed from M's dad. So, you might think instead of a limp I'm just rollin' real slow with my gangster lean...
Yes, it's a stress fracture and there's really nothing to be done about it until it heals on its own, which should take a couple of months (!). So long, running experiment, at least for now...In the meantime, I have the cane, some tylenol, an appointment for more x-rays in two weeks and the doctor's sage advice.
Which, I think, could be wisely applied to other fractured parts of my life.
Way Too Early to Be Blogging
Yes, even though this is a day I've been waiting for for oh, um, 8 years, even though I have a d*mn T-shirt with the date emblazoned across the front, for some reason, when I made the appointment to go see my RE's preferred maternal fetal medicine specialists (who BTW only do consultations on Monday mornings, Tuesday or Friday afternoons - read: every single time that it would be impossible for M to get off work) I somehow FORGOT this was Inauguration Day.
Way to go, Einstein.
So, instead of sharing a great day with my co-workers who I am sure will be circled around a TV at any free moment today, I'll be chug, chugging along, then schlep, schlepping over to a very big hospital and then waiting, waiting, waiting to hear the big city MFMs tell me what dolts and nimrods my little city MFMs are before they give me their assessment of what precautions we should take for our next attempted pregnancy.
That is my prediction for the day.
M's already left for work. He's feeling a little edgy, I can tell. Feeling guilty about not being able to come along. Feeling bad that I have to retell "the birth story" on my own. Feeling frustrated that we can't just rely on the big city doctors and hospitals for everything up to and including (dare I say it, a delivery). But the distance is too much, at least for that last part.
So we'll take what we can get. Much as the drive/train ride can be a drain, we've actually come to enjoy the time together. We know the route. We know how to entertain each other. If anything, those long drives both coming and going have been the setting for probably every major decision we have made on this (almost) 2 year sojourn.
Yes. Two years. I had that realization around 6 a.m. this morning. My two-year blogoversary is just around the corner. In March, it will mark 2 years since our very first visit to the clinic we love.
And for a few minutes, I was totally deflated. Two years? Two fucking years we've been at this? Only to get so close....and then I veer down that very dangerous path of, if everything were ok I would be 28 weeks pregnant now and gosh I bet I would be huge and the girls would be kicking and....
and and and
But then I remember that everything in our lives (our, meaning M and me) seems to work in these fairly compact 2-year cycles. Don't ask me why. It just happens. Me in Poland = just shy of 2 years. Us in Chile = what I told my boss would be a few months' experiment in telecommuting turned into 2 years. Back home = 2 years. Cross-country trip across the U.S. = once again, just shy of 2 years.
TTC (and have a baby we can bring home. That's the critical part)= coming up on 2 years.
So, if I believed in cycles (which I DO) that could lead one to believe that our lives without children might soon be over. It could mean that the cycle we begin in just a month or two could be the one.
Please be the one.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Ahh, Good Point
The answer is no but it is something that I had been thinking about as probably a good thing to do for a while now. Since my menstrual cycle and ovary function disappeared with my chemo and radiation at age 13 never to return without the coaxing of birth control pills (the cycle, not the function), and since there were huge stretches of time that I went without those pills (you know, just to see what would happen), I have been more or less pre-menopausal for well over a decade. Scratch that. Two? Christ I'm old.
So, that can't be good for bones. And my very smart pal was wondering if weak bone density contributed to my fracture. Hmm. A very good question. One that I'll ask my new orthopedic specialist tomorrow.
As soon as I get home from my super fun night tonight. I promise I will only dance on my good leg.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Injuries - those self-inflicted and ones I wish I could inflict on one other
Do you hear what I am saying? I wish physical harm on one of the people in your practice. And for that reason, I can't come here anymore. You haven't fired her. You promise disciplinary action. But she is still here. After over a decade at the office, I can't come here again.
Does she see my dead babies in her dreams at night? I hope so. Because I do.
I am not angry because I am grieving. I am angry because I don't think I should have to be grieving. And I blame her. Do you hear me? I blame her. I hate her.
And all of this is met with hugs and hand holdings, and "I understands" and "I see what you are saying" all boiling down to, "there, there, sobbing woman who is obviously not in her right mind, please don't freak the fuck out on us. There are pregnant women and children here."
This morning postpartum exam was much, much harder than anticipated. I honestly was fine until I saw the midwife's name. Tears. Unstoppable. They left me in the waiting room too long because by the time I got back to the room my blood pressure was sky high (you think?) Barely made it through the nurse's questions (also done with the hushed "I understand" tone) and got to the doc. And that's when the above conversation happened.
I wished her husband (my favorite ob in the practice) were there. Because I honestly do think he understands. He was there. Called too late. And was angry he was called too late. I wish my husband were there, because I honestly think he would have gone ape shit after the 2nd or 3rd condescending tone. He was mad enough after the fact when I told him.
Could those 6 hours have made a difference? We've already been through this. We will never know. We will never know.
And here you might ask, what about legal action? Malpractice? Negligence? Look, I doubt we could prove the first, perhaps the latter. But have you participated in a medical lawsuit? They are awful. And take years. And force you to dredge up statements and facts that hurt the first time you say them, let alone the hundredth. They force you to put a price on lives. Or loss of live. I don't think I want to go there. I don't want fucking money. I want my daughters. And I want that cunt fired.
So the visit ended after my exam (I mean, I still needed one) with a I am so sorry to see you go. I am sorry it came to this but you have to be someplace where you are comfortable. I won't take it personally....
Which, frankly, irked me. But by then, I was spent. I told you, crying just wears me down. It's not something I am used to and it exhausts me. So, if any of my friends in real life have an ob/gyn to recommend, all ears over here (email me privately).
Fast forward to phase 2 of my day - MRI for the knee that I bothered after about a week of what I thought was a very, very sensible beginning to a running program. My expectation? Insurance covered it. Doc suggested it. Why the heck not. I was expecting an "oh, it's nothing, probably just a strain. Go home and keep icing and doing what you're doing. Good luck and have a good life. Bye."
No such luck.
Spent my 20 minutes in the tube listening to Led Zeppelin on the headphones in between beeps and buzzes (nice one, mr. tech! thank you!). Got pulled out and saw the concerned smirk on mr. tech's face. What? Whaaaat?
"Well, I'm not supposed to say anything. The radiologist has to look at everything first, but from what I can see, boy, you did a job on your knee. blah blah miniscus...blah blah MCL...ACL...I might have even seen a hairline fracture...You'll probably be seeing an ortho guy soon...."
And at this point, I laugh. A big belly laugh. Because frankly, it was funny. And I hadn't smiled all day and it felt good to stretch those other muscles.
UPDATE: my doctor's office just called. Looks like the primary injury is "non-displaced fracture of my tibia." The ortho dudes are calling me tomorrow.
Well there you have it.
In better news, hubby thought the knee injury was equally funny. You dumb ass. We are celebrating my dumb ass-ness by eating steaks (good for my yin, right?) and getting tipsy on good red wine.
Even better news: we are going to a rock concert in a city that isn't ours tomorrow night. Because we want to. And because we're feeling bold, we turned it into a mini-trip. Leaving work early (me), staying in a fancy 4-star hotel (priceline, holla!) and doing dinner out too. If we're lucky, a friend who works in said city may even join us. We are both so excited for this little, little break.
So there, I wasn't all gloom and doom today. In fact, none of my days this week had been gloomy. Just the first part of this one. But now it's over. And it's past 5 pm. So it is totally legit to crack the (first) bottle of wine.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Recapping the Week
That's kind of how it felt yesterday when we found that yes, the local newspaper from the area where I was born did indeed publish birth announcements (along with the school cafeteria menus, volunteer schedule for the hospital, and who visited whom after church the week before). All there in black and white (so strange to see how things were pre-HIPAA): A baby girl born to Mr. and Mrs. Blah of 123 Blah Lane of Blahville....All there.
Except for me.
Not that we expected the baby girl born to a 16 year old who would then give her to Catholic Charities and hope for the best to be celebrated in the evening news. But it still kind of stung. Where's my big "hello"?
But now, we have names of people who ostensibly spent time in the hospital with my birth mother. That is, if she was even kept on the maternity ward and if she was allowed to commiserate with other patients.
Cue image of young girl in hospital robe surrounded by strict looking nuns in full regalia yielding rulers, encircling her and preventing other patients from seeing or talking to her. Ok. Well, that's the image in my mind....
Anyways, we have names. I don't know what to do with them. But it feels like something. Something more than we had. Not like it gets us any closer to knowing anything. But still.
Some things that could get us closer is registering with the Soundex Registry and putting together our petition to the courts to get more than just non-identifying information. I've also sent all of the girls' vital info to the person in M's family that puts together the genealogy - he has promised that Iso.bel and Jo.vita each have a branch on that family tree. Forever. And that feels wonderful. That's what we've been doing this week.
Among other things.
Yesterday was our visit with the RE. And that was good in a number of ways. Never mind that I had a near anxiety attack in the waiting room. What's taking so long? Or another one trying to figure out insurance stuff. What do you mean my coverage isn't verified and you can't use our new coverage (which just might pay for our next cycle) until I drop my other one? Once we finally met with our doctor (and our Nurse and the counselor) we were reminded that this is one of those rare places - one of those places that feels like people know your history, and know the path you've been on so far, and know the victories and obstacles and want more than anything to see you with a baby in your arms.
We brought birth announcements for our doctor and Nurse. And there were some hugs and tears. But not without hope for the next time. And our doc felt pretty darn good about our odds for the next time. Or the next time.
She had questions about the reports from here, and asked many of the same questions we asked the MFM specialists. She had her own theories and thoughts and wants us to meet with her hospital's MFM dudes to see what they think. No problem. She also wants me to have an HSG to ensure that there isn't any scarring from the curettage. But she wants that to be done at her place as well. Also, no problem. In fact, if we could just do everything up to and including a delivery where she is, that would be great. But distance doesn't really make that feasible. Alas.
So, an HSG is scheduled for Feb. 5. As is a meeting with their MFM. She admitted that she is not too crazy about the idea of doing a cerclage "just in case" the next time. Because that's not without risks, and she's just not convinced my cervix was the issue. Her theory: that there was some sort of trigger that caused my body to go into pre-term labor. The size of my uterus? The fact that it may not stretch as well as others due to radiation? The fact there were two little ones in there? Hard to tell, but in her mind, it seemed like labor started first, my cervix started to open, infection came second.
And, this is ridiculous, and it's small consolation, but that did console me. This infection thing (what did I do? What did I not do?) has been driving me batty. The idea that this was not under my control was, for once, a small mercy.
Whatever happened, she felt very strongly that the biggest risk factor was the fact there were twins. We talked about next steps and where to go with this knowledge.
The good news? Of the 3 remaining embryos, we have a straw of 2 frozen together. And 1 solo. We are going to thaw Han Solo first. If he grows, we'll still have 2 embryos to try the next time. If not, we can try to thaw the 2 we have left and see which one grows the best. If they both progress to blastocyst, we could refreeze one.
We talked about using our 3 ice pops vs. starting the process of finding a new donor and starting a fresh cycle. She felt very strongly that there was no reason not to use the 3 on ice - especially since we had such success with other members of the cohort. I'm not sure if M. feels better about our odds, but I do.
The counselor that we met the very first day we ever visitedthe clinic happened to be in the office yesterday and Nurse wondered if we'd like to see her? Sure. Why not. We had declined offers from the bereavement counselors at our hospital, but this was someone we knew and liked. We weren't sure what exactly we were going to talk about, but we said, sure. Send her in.
And we were blabarific. It seems we had a lot to talked about. We talked over each other, finished each other's sentences, veered into all kinds of topics well beyond Iso.bel and Jo.vita, but still connected. Before we knew it we were talking about our morning, our mourning, our search for my birth parents, expectations around grief and grieving, everything. It was great. It was great to say things to someone other than Michael. It was great to hear him talk to someone other than me. (Not that we don't talk to other people, but we usually don't do it together). It was great to hear some perspective on the search, the process, the possible results, and the rationale behind some things that were frustrating us beyond explanation. I'm glad we saw her. Glad we stuck around.
Before we knew it, it was nearing rush hour and we both cringed at the thought of the traffic we might be facing on the way home. But it wasn't bad. And we still managed to squeeze in a stop at TJs and make it back home in time for a birthday dinner for M's mom (and dad who had his birthday earlier this week). We met at a BYOB French restaurant none of us had tried before and realized midway through the meal that it had been a very long time since we enjoyed a meal out like this together. It was wonderful. The food and the company.
And now the final match of Smackdown is happening. And you now know I can't miss it.
Do you ever do this? Write yourself little notes to remind yourself about things you want to blog about? I looked at my scratchings and these are some of the topics. It cracks me up because this practice is a holdover from writing high school papers. I'd jot down all the points I would be trying to make in a paper, then just filter it down until I had something that made sense. Add references to points that were relevant; ditch the ones that weren't. Sometimes it worked...
Let's start with the here and now. Right now, I'm reclining, trying to calm my pulsing knees, Gtalking w/ hubby, debating whether I want a cup of the leek and potato soup I just made now or later (prob'ly now...), and watching WWE Smackdown.
Yep, Smackdown. And loving it.
And I don't even want to tell you (but I will ) that this is not the first time that I've watched wrestling this week. Monday night = WWE Raw. Tuesday night = ECW. Friday = Smackdown. And I am here alone. In full control of my TV remote, which BTW, I have figured out how to use, and what do I choose? I choose Smackdown.
Sigh. This all started as a semi-joke. Before his new job, M. got a gig at a blog network writing about one of his true loves - boxing. The catch? The blog was a wrestling, MMA and boxing blog. He negotiated the MMA out, but not the wresting. Fair enough. Seemed a small price to pay for full editorial control and some cool freebies. So we started watching pro-wrestling.
And before you know it, we were fully engrossed in the plot lines. Fully invested in the characters. We chose our villians and our heroes and sometimes we were on the same side. Sometimes not. It was easier to throw on than a movie. More reliable than series that go on hiatus or have season finales far too early. Always new. Always entertaining.
One of the first outings we took the girls (still seedlings then) to was a live taping of WWE Smackdown and ECW at a local arena. That was just a day or two post transfer. It was a blast. And just reaffirmed that we had shifted from ironic observers to dedicated fans. In my quest for mindless distraction this month, I picked up The Hardy Boyz: Exist 2 Inspire at the library. And I just renewed it. Because I'm not finished yet.
Are you laughing at me? I think you're laughing.
The other day I told M. that I needed to go to grad school so I could write my thesis on pro-wrestling. "Ok. what would you write about?" I don't know yet. But it will be awesome.
So, the knees. After a week of not running, a visit to my acupuncturist (miracle worker) and lots of lots of tylenol and ice, I am finally walking without a walking stick and (almost) without a limp. This is what I get for trying to get fit. I am NOT quitting. Just waiting for my legs to feel normal before digging into them again. In the meantime, I'm trying to supplement with swimming and trying not to make M. laugh every time I quasimodo back to the kitchen. And thanking Amy for getting me hooked on these podcasts.
My soup is delicious.
And look, I haven't even started to tell you about yesterday. Which was loooong, but good. In lots of ways. So much for filtering. Stay tuned for a new post.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The weather forecast worked in my favor. The office is empty. Ice storms (even when they don't happen) make people skittish. The only one here is me. And an electrician trying to fix something. And my crazy boss flitting in and out running errands but she is not really "here."
So far, it's been nice to be here. Communicating with co-workers and members (I work for a non-profit association), whittling away at email that has accumulated...
But now I am at the point where the emails are from Before. From when I was pregnant. From when I was helping to plan my maternity leave. From when everyone was so excited...
So pretty much every email I am trying to tackle now is peppered with at least one mention of me-as-pregnant-lady or of the girls. A joke here. A how-are-you-feeling there. The first few caught me off guard, especially after such a non-eventful morning. But slowly, slowly, I am taking them. Reading them. Remembering not that Iso.bel and Jo.vita are not here (damn I love their names) but that these are all the people that are rooting for us, cheering us on. There were here and they will be here again when it is time to try again.
And that time will be here soon enough.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Back and Forth
This is how quickly everything changes. Everything shifts.
It started off as a snarky offhand comment (mine) about my body. M. saying, "now why would you say that?" Me saying, "Because it's true." Him asking, "Is that what you are really feeling? Is that what you have been feeling? Are you serious? Why are you doing this to yourself? I can't leave you here alone during the day if I know these are the thoughts you are torturing yourself with."
So, it seems that I am still carrying
Things calmed down. I calmed down, I should say. The rest of the evening was spent relatively quietly. Crying wears me out, y'all. I did shed a few tears at Gossip Girl (because I heart Chuck Bass and the Rufus-adoption storyline is getting a little close to home) but that's different. Totally different.
Today feels like its going to be an ok day. The pain in my knee is down from an "OWCH!" to an "ouch" when I walk. I got out of bed with minimal dialogue with myself. I have some work projects from yesterday I want to continue. A shower is beckoning.
And I might just change my underwear (just for you ~m~ )
Monday, January 5, 2009
As I'm writing this just happened:
"Hey, do you smell something?" "Yeah. Someone's cooking." "Oh. cool." [Five minutes lapse. TV watching resumes] "Oh hey, that's OUR food! Sonofab...." [hubby dashes to kitchen where he realizes he put black bean soup on the stove to heat, like, 20 minutes ago.]
I am laughing my gimpy (sore knee, remember) *ss off. Him, notsomuch.
This feels semi-normal. It feels good.
While you're online you should go vote for Mel for best medical/health blog. Because she's smart. And funny. And a good person. And she writes about things that matter a lot to me and you.
In a nutshell: she never said such a thing. She had been misinterpreted; she is the victim here. I have changed so much over the years that she can't talk to me anymore without fear of offending...her pain and how I have inflicted it was mentioned on at least 3 separate occasions, including a mention about the time that I confronted her about information that I had found on my own adoption.
I hurt her feelings.
Never mind that I found out facts I have never known about my life. Never mind that she added additional information in today's email. And then continued on to say she had never hid anything from me. Contradiction, no?
At any rate, I hit reply and put it all out there. Everything. Well, not everything, I didn't tell her to stick her virgin mary up her .....so I didn't put it all out there...everything but that. I won't reprint it here. It's long and tedious and will probably spark quite a, quite a something, but that was my point. Why are you afraid to talk to me? Why do you measure your words when that doesn't help anyway. So we get mad at each other, so what??? So frigging what? Is that the worst thing that could happen? Do you even understand how hurtful you are NOW? Would things really get worse? Do you know how awful your silence was at the hospital? At Xmas eve? Do you know how mean this email is to me right now? Do you have any frigging clue about how I am feeling? No, because you are wrapped up in how I am making you feel.
It can't get worse.
So let's see if it gets better.
I AM working today. Minus this 30 minute break here to either mend or sever relations with my mother. But from my recliner. A long, long walk yesterday aggravated an already sore knee and it now seems that I need the assistance of M's dad's walking stick to move. Damn you, exercise.
At any rate, this seems like a transition that makes sense. It feels good to interact with co-workers, but I am also liking the distance. Feels good to get some tasks addressed, but in my own time.
Today doesn't feel as shit brown as yesterday, but that could just be because I am still seeing red.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Trying to Explain
Now there is just this omnipresent, all-encompassing Sad. Just weighing over me like a cloud. A fog. Sometimes it lifts a little and there is the Nothing. But that sinks into Sad pretty quickly. Nothing happens to trigger it. Even worse, there doesn't feel like there's anything to make it go away.
If someone were to ask me, "what's wrong?" It's not even as simple as, "I miss the girls." There is so much more to it. So many more emotions beyond grieving, even with those damned phases that allegedly exist within it. So much more than just a loss. In fact, if someone asks me, "how are you?" I can be in the process of saying (and meaning) "I'm ok right now" and break into tears, I could be in the midst of saying, "not so good" and change my mind. No sense. There's no sense to it at all.
Did you ever try to paint and get too many colors on your brush? What started as this brilliant swirl of color and contrast to rival van Gogh just overwhelms itself and in the end looks nothing at all like that on the canvas. Too much paint. Too many colors. All swirls together.
And looks shit brown.
No depth, no remnant of the many, many hues in which you dipped your brush. Just this smear. That won't come off. That can't be covered up.
That is what my grief feels like today. Just a dull and ugly shit brown.
The People in My Neighborhood
With the exception of the few people I can count on half of one hand, I could not be surrounded by a more loving lot. Friends, family (for the most part), co-workers, colleagues, hell, acquaintances. These people have all risen to the occasion to show us that we matter. That the girls matter. They have fed us, written to us, entertained us, visited us, wept with us, called us, hugged us, loved us.
I wish I could show how thankful I am. That we are.
And then there's you. All of you, who continue to check in on me, email me, write me privately and not privately. I am not going to admit how many times I check my blog and email throughout the day and read and reread your words. Thank you so much. I wish I could show how thankful I am. That we are.
The problem, I think, is me. I think I am pushing towards normalcy too quickly. I think I am trying to soldier on and I am admitting right now that perhaps I am just not ready yet. I accept invitations from good friends and then I bail at the last minute or simply don't show (I am so sorry, H.). I get myself all gussied up to go out and I can't bring myself to open the door.
Last night, for instance, I make plans to see one of my favorite bands, hell, I even have drinks lined up for me at the bar, and then after a moment, I realize that it is the last place I want to be. And then a familiar internal monologue starts:
well, then, where do you want to be? I don't know. Not there. Well, where? Um, here on the couch seems fine. So, the couch is where you'd like to be? Again? Not really. But I can't think of anything better and I'm already here so why not just stay here. OMFG what is your fucking problem? Sigh. I don't know. Are you feeling sad? Should you talk to M.? Would going out make you feel better? Don't you think it might feel better to be around people? I don't know. Those are too many questions. I don't feel sad. I just don't feel anything. If I were with other people, what would I say? I'd have to talk. I don't want to talk.
And I realize that my feeling lately is mostly numb. Peppered by anger. And then I feel something really not nice creeping in. That, "oh you think you have problems?" scowl that I used to wear in college that has taken me a decade to shed. A chip on my shoulder heavy with anger at the world is the last thing I want to bear right now. Get off. Just get off...
We haven't been total shut ins. I started running and have been going back to the gym. M. is at work this very moment and has been going for weeks. We've hit some happy hours. We've gone grocery shopping. And then hit more happy hours. But (besides work) those all feel a little more anonymous. We're out, but we're still alone. Still together. In fact, it seems it is easier for M. to talk about some things when we aren't at home. Something about a different place (i.e. not our couch) gives him the distance he needs to see things a little clearer. Me, I just want beer.
Gatherings or places where there are people we know are a little harder. I can't explain why. They just are.
So, today my post is to reassure you that yes, there are people around us that are loving and caring for us as well as they can. As well as we will let them. There are a few screwy family members who should know better, but when aren't there? I do worry that I've given some miscues. Some indication that I am ready for the world. And it seems that I am not. And I worry that the invitations or calls might stop after so many being unanswered. Please don't stop.
Tomorrow is Monday. I am going to get my shoes on and go to work. I am not promising I'm going to stay, but I am going to try. If it feels ok, I will be there. If not, I am reminding myself right now that it is ok for me to admit that I need more time.
I just might need more time.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
And There It Is
Well, there you have it. I knew it was coming sooner or later. Better that it's later. If I had heard this 4 weeks ago, my reaction would have been violence. I am not even joking.
Instead, there will be no reaction. This email from an old auntie (who also didn't "get" that the girls had died until after I emailed her again to clarify) will go unanswered. At least for now. But other things in this exchange prompted another email to be written:
Mom, please stop telling people not to say anything to us about Iso.bel and Jo.vita. It really hurt to get Xmas cards from people that obviously had heard about their birth and death but yet didn’t say anything about them. We want them to be remembered and loved, not ignored. They are a part of our lives and always will be. Telling people not to say anything is probably the worst thing you can do.
I hate having to act like everything is ok and that I am ok. Because I am not. You are right. There is nothing you can do to ease this pain. But feeling like people are pretending they don’t exist or acting like something never happened makes it much, much worse. If people ask, tell them what happened. If they want to contact us, please let them. We need to hear from people. We need to know people care.I am sure this will prompt a phone call and a "I never know what you want from me" teary sob. Because it's all about her. Always. But I really felt this needed addressed so it stops happening. The last thing I want (besides being told that "G*d knows best") is communications cut off from people who want to talk to us because someone told them not to. Based on nothing.
It is NEVER a bad thing to reach out to someone who is hurting.
Friday, January 2, 2009
You Look Fine so You Must Be Fine
After our loss, we exist in that murky place, somewhere between the mirage of our past and our equally uncertain future. Yet the most horrific alteration is to our sense of self. Circumstance has reduced us to a pile of worn emotions and old perspectives, and then challenged us to live again. To re-create our hopes, dreams and future possibilities while balancing each new idea against the notion that our child died. Who can I possibly become now that my world is meaningless?And there's more. Cara Tyrrell has succinctly laid out the tasks that I seem to be waking up to every morning.
For every stolen perspective, my worldly assignment appears:I think I've talked about this before, but some of my friends have plainly and honestly come up to me and asked, "how do you want me to be?" As in, does it help to talk? To not talk? To focus and remember? To be distracted? "What, my dear friend," some people have asked, "do you want from us?"
- Figure out how you will navigate the world through your new lenses – but live in it while you do.
- Create appropriate memorials to the child you have lost- but do not obsess.
- Talk about them just enough - but not too much.
- Take all the time you need – but expect that others will pressure you to move on before you are ready.
- Be prepared for some of your long-term friendships to fall apart - it is inevitable.
- Decide how you are going to navigate this death for future children, or the ones you already have.
- Oh yes - and don’t forget, figure out who you used to be before all this madness versus who you are becoming in the wake of your tragedy.
And I don't have an answer. Or at least one that doesn't vascillate from moment to moment. Thankfully, gwendomomma has suggestions. Real advice on what to do and not to when someone's child has died. Bookmark this. Read this. Share this.
At times I am thankful for distraction. But other times I am wholeheartedly angered at the avoidance, of the pretend that something life-changing and monumental hasn't just occurred to us. That our lives will ever be the same. No, I don't want to be "that girl," but I also want a little bit of leeway if I can't answer your questions about my job (what was it that I did? I don't remember nor do I care) or can't focus if you ask me about things that I could really give a fuck about right now (my freelance writing, my career ambitions).
I want some god dammed recognition and understanding that we are dealing with something pretty fucking huge right now and I could give a fuck about making small talk with you. So, you might need to just give me a minute. Or two.
From what I can assess, it feels that distraction and other conversations are most welcome from people who have traveled through the grieving with us, who have held our hands and wiped our tears and are now trying to walk with us, holding us as we go.
What is NOT welcome is the "you look fine so you must be fine so let's just talk about anything but your babies, your loss, in fact, let's just not mention it or validate it at all. You look fine so you must be fine so there's really no need for you to hear an "I'm sorry.." or a "I am grieving with you" from me."
You're wrong. I need it. I need to hear it. I need to know that Jov.ita and Iso.bel matter. I need to know that while you may not understand the pain that we are feeling (although, I am so sorry that so many of you do) that there is a recognition that it exists.
Yes, we look fine. But we aren't.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
The Creme de la Creme is Ready
So, you should go look at it.
And know that I will be posting an addendum to my own entry (oh how things have changed) very soon.
I had a much nicer than anticipated New Year's Eve that consisted of hair-stroking under the basement stairs, bear hugs by the stripper pole and many a heart to heart with burly men and buxom women. Maybe I'll even tell you about that. Short version: I love my brother, his girlfriend, and their friends and was absolutely shocked (although I shouldn't have been) by the love and affection (and grief) that they shared with me and M.
All amid the glow of a "Live Nudes" neon light in my brother's basement, setting of his first annual (of what will be many I am sure) NYE soiree.
I love my brother.